From “Hitler-Regime” to “Human Rights Abuses”. An Analysis of the Chili Komitee Nederland’s Discourse in Addressing the Pinochet Regime 1973-1989
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The international reaction to Pinochet’s coup d’état in Chile and its violent aftermath were an important catalyst for the promulgation of human rights culture in the ‘70s. International organisations, national governments and domestic solidarity committees started using a rhetoric of human rights, some exclusively, others as part of a wider arsenal of narratives that could be utilized in denouncing the Chilean junta and their policies. The protracted nature of the CKN activity, spanning some 16 years, has enabled us to see within a single organisation the rise of human rights rhetoric in the international system through their publications and propaganda materials. The progression is quite significant, from a more ideologically oriented contrast of leftist values versus capitalism (or fascism) to opting into the depoliticized human rights culture, albeit on their own terms. The committee was, however, remarkably late in making the switch to a messaging framework informed by concerns for human rights, even when compared to similar solidarity movements in other countries. This deviation from the general tendencies could be attributed to the existence of other adequate understandings of the Chilean situation in terms of fascism and anti-imperialism that were already shared among the different domestic and foreign networks, coupled with the fact that the depoliticized nature of human rights discourse did not mesh well with the explicitly political nature of the CKN’s interest in Chile. During the ‘80s the focus of the committee’s messaging increasingly came to lie with abuses in the realm of political and civil rights, partly because a rhetoric based on leftist ideals was losing relevancy and partly because the human rights discourse by that time had been firmly established and was more suitable to arouse engagement from the population.